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Tone in On His Blindness

Tone Examples in On His Blindness:

Text of the Poem

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"he..."   (Text of the Poem)

“He” in this context refers to God. The speaker offers the question in the following line with this caveat that if he is chided for his question, he will recant the question. This reveals the speaker’s anxious and apologetic tone.

"bent..."   (Text of the Poem)

Notice that enjambment, the continuation of a sentence beyond the end of a line, disrupts the meaning of this sentence as a whole. In this part of the sentence, the speaker means that he is bent in service of God, like a servant who is bowing. However, because this line ends with “bent” it seems at first that his soul is “bent” or crooked, meaning it is in some way immoral or wicked. The division of this sentence, and the divergent meanings implicit within this division, demonstrates the underlying uncertainty throughout this poem. The speaker wonders if he will be able to serve God if he cannot exercise his talents and what will become of his soul if he cannot serve God.

"murmur..."   (Text of the Poem)

Note that the speaker's response to his personal loss is a stance of yielding. The word "murmur"—which describes how "Patience" communicates to the speaker—is appropriate to the overall tone of the sonnet. He is resigned to accept whichever fate God imposes upon him. This is also indicated two lines later in the words "mild yoke." When Milton concludes with the words, "They also serve who only stand and wait," he seems to be suggesting that he can serve God by serving as an example of patience, faith, and humility.

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